I recently was visiting a custom builder in Michigan that was in the middle of transforming into something more akin to a production builder. You could feel the organizational stress in the air with so much change underway. When a few moments opened up in our schedule, the head of operations and the design studio pulled me aside to ask “what software can fix this and make it better.” We both knew she was grasping for a silver bullet—and it was up to me to disappoint her. “You shouldn’t be looking at introducing any new software yet,” I said.
It is because of interactions like this one that I understand why you might think that I am anti-technology, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The right piece of software will be an enormous help to this small organization, but only if the team implements it at the correct time. This leader was in the middle of changing nearly every process and procedure for how the business functions. Until she knew she had a new process that worked for both internal and external customers—adding technology would have been a distraction. Implementing new software takes a massive amount of organizational energy. And every time you perfect the process based upon feedback, the progress you made with the software may need to be undone before it can be fixed. In this situation, the company needs to innovate first and then add technology to improve speed, reliability, and certainty that the best possible customer experience is predictably repeated.